Betts, A Mother’s Memoir, 1923-1964, Part IX: Grandmother Remembers

Judith Levy and Judy Pelikan, Grandmother Remembers:  A Written Heirloom for My Grandchild (New York, 1983).

[Note:  Somehow this volume wound up in my basement, along with a lot of other stuff from my mother, Elsie Elizabeth (Betts) Lamplugh, that I had accumulated over many years.  I must have brought it upstairs when I retrieved documents I used in the “Betts” series of posts. For some reason, I didn’t pay much attention to this book, merely stashing it on a study bookshelf—until recently, when I took the volume down and read through it.  I’m glad I did, because, although Betts did not finish filling in all the stuff that was to make up this grandmotherly “heirloom” to our boys, what she did complete provided at least some information my siblings and I hadn’t known.  I’m posting these excerpts from Grandmother Remembers, along with a few links and photos, another chapter in the saga of “Betts:  A Mother’s Memoir, 1923-1964.”]

My Grandparents [See Part II]

My Mother’s Family:

Grandfather’s name:  George Thomas Dobson.

George T. Dobson

Grandmother’s name:  Reba Murray.

Settled in:  Newark, Delaware.

Grandfather earned his living: Working at Curtis Paper Company in Newark as far as I can remember.

My mother was born:  May 15, 1904.

My Father’s Family:

Grandfather’s name:  William Henry Knighton.

William H. Knighton

Grandmother’s name:  Jemima Lydia Gallagher.

Jemima Knighton

Grandparents settled in:  Philadelphia, Pa.

My father was born:  February 22, 1898.

My Parents

Father’s name:  Isaac Livezy Knighton.

Isaac L. Knighton

Mother’s name:  Gertrude Isabelle Dobson.

Isabelle Knighton

My parents met: 

How:  At the home of Mr. & Mrs. William Dean (Mrs. Dean was Dad’s cousin).

When:  Sept. 1919.

Where:  Newark, Delaware.

They were married: 

            Date:  Sept. 20, 1920.

Place:  Old Swede’s Episcopal Church, Wilmington, Del.

My father earned his living:  Several jobs, but the one I remember was Continental Diamond Fiber Co., Newark, Delaware.

I Was Born

I was born:  January 8, 1923.

Where:  Lewes, Delaware.

Named:  Elsie Elizabeth Lamplugh.

That name was chosen because:  My mother had an aunt Elsie and an aunt Elizabeth (known as Aunt “Lizzie”).  Cute, huh?

I weighed:  average weight—probably 6 pounds.

I was told I resembled:  My grandmother Knighton as I grew up.

Brothers’ and Sisters’ names:  Gertrude, Anna Margaret, George William, Mary Katherine, & Robert Arthur.

As a Young Girl [See Part III]

My family lived:  Newark, Delaware most of my life—moved there in 1934.

I went to school:  Newark, Delaware from age 10.

As a student:  I was average.  No honor student—had to study.

My ambition was:  to be a medical secretary, but I was not able to attend college after I graduated from high school.

At home I was expected to:  help in the kitchen, clean up the house, do laundry, & iron my own clothes.

My parents were very strict about:  my choice of friends, dating, had to be home at a certain time—or else!!

My father taught me to value:  friends, money—and how to follow directions—and do as I was told.

My mother taught me to value:  friends.

What I loved most about my father:  his patience with a large family in a small house.  He was a wonderful, understanding Dad.

What I loved most about my mother:  her ability to get along with people—and the pride she had in her family.

My teenage years were:  great.  My parents were warm & understanding, and we all respected their wishes.

As a Girl “My Favorite. . .”

Song: “Begin the Beguine”

Movie: “Mrs. Miniver”

Actor:  Walter Pidgeon

Actress:  Greer Garson

Book:  How to Win Friends and Influence People

Radio Program: “Sammy Kaye’s Orchestra”

Season:  Summer

Vacation spot:  Beach

Holiday:  Christmas

Flower:  Roses & Lilacs

Color:  Red

Sport:  Roller skating

Food:  Roast beef

Subject in school:  Typing & shorthand

Friend:  Betty Geesman & Doris Grundy

As a Young Woman [See Part IV]

Betts in 1942

I graduated from:  Newark High School, June 12, 1940.

I worked at:  at the Continental Diamond Fiber Co. for a couple of years & then worked for the Pennsylvania R.R.

On weekends, I: went to dances or roller skating.

I started to date at the age of:  17.

I met your grandfather at:  his brother’s home.  I worked with his sister-in-law at the fiber mill.

His full name:  Benjamin Leroy Lamplugh.

His birthday:  January 20, 1921.

Our first date was:  to the movies.  

His age when we met: 20.

He lived:  was in the U.S. Army—at Ft. Meade, Md.

I lived:  in Newark.

He earned his living:  as a soldier during World War II and after that he became a carpenter.

I liked him because:  he was a gentleman, very quiet—much like my father.

Grandfather said he liked me because:  I was quiet—little did he know how much I would change.

When we dated we liked to go:  to the movies—or just out walking—we had very little money.

My Engagement

Ben and Betts

[Note:  Betts omitted answers to how long the “courtship” lasted; when they became engaged; and what Ben said when he proposed.  What follows is the only question she chose to answer. For more on her omissions, go here in the “Betts” series.]

When I told my parents [about the engagement] they:  thought we should wait till the war was over and we knew each other better.

My Wedding Day

Wedding Photo (January 12, 1943)

Grandfather and I were married:  January 12, 1943, at 7 P.M., in the home of Minister C. Nadal Jones, in Wilmington, Delaware.

I wore:  a blue wool 2-piece dress.

We celebrated our wedding by:  having dinner with my mother, sister-in-law Ethel and her fiancé, who were at our wedding.

[Note:  Betts skipped the next two questions—“most memorable wedding gift” and “most vivid memory of my wedding day” but did answer the final question.]

After we were married we traveled to:  could not go anywhere because Ben had to go back to his army post in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

My First Year of Marriage [See Part V]

When Grandfather and I were first married: I lived at home with my parents, since Ben was in the Army.  Spent time with him at Fort Bragg.

We lived there for:  about two months—then he went overseas.

My fondest memory of our first home is:  It was in an Army town—Fayetteville, N.C.—an apartment.  It was a small town—but lively.  We had Army friends.

Grandfather’s job was:  in the 82nd Airborne paratroops.

After we married:  I tried to be a good wife—though we had very little time together the first couple of years [because Ben was in the Army, overseas, for much of that time].

As a wife, I tried to be:  understanding of the kind of marriage we had—wartime marriages are difficult—need a lot of love & trust from both people. [For some indication of the difficulties in this particular wartime marriage, go here.]

End of Part IX

Copyright 2019 George Lamplugh

* * * * * *

For those interested in reading more of my reflections on history, here are links to my books on the subject:

REABP CoverRancorous Enmities and Blind Partialities:  Parties and Factions in Georgia, 1807-1845 (University Press of America, 2015)

Pursuit Cover

In Pursuit of Dead Georgians:  One Historian’s Excursions into the History of His Adopted State (iUniverse, 2015)

Politics on the Periphery:  Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783-1806 (University of Delaware Press, 1986)



About georgelamplugh

I retired in 2010 after nearly four decades of teaching History at the "prep school" level with a PhD. My new "job" was to finish the book manuscript I'd been working on, in summers only, since 1996. As things turned out, not only did I complete that book, but I also put together a collection of my essays--published and unpublished--on Georgia history. Both volumes were published in the summer of 2015. I continue to work on other writing projects, including a collection of essays on the Blues and, of course, my blog.
This entry was posted in American History, Books, Delaware, family history, genealogy, Historical Reflection, History, memoir, Research, Retirement, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Betts, A Mother’s Memoir, 1923-1964, Part IX: Grandmother Remembers

  1. Donald Bortz says:

    Thanks George- I love the history of families and what their lives were like.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. admiral17(RB) says:

    What a gem of a find. This is the sort of information that is extremely difficult to find on folks fo that generation if they were outside the social and political elites of a community. The general conservatism of those days makes your discovery priceless. Keep digging.

  3. Thanks, Rick. Yeah, I keep thinking I’m done with the “Betts” series, but this is the second one I hadn’t planned on. Who knows what else I might find if I keep looking!

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